The legendary Minnewaska State Park Preserve brings visitors from near and far, all drawn by the opportunity to hike, bike, and stroll past stunning scenic vistas of the lush valleys below. While this ethereal place was once an inaccessible, cordoned-off ridgetop, available mainly to high-paying hotel guests, the land is now not only protected, but is also being made more welcoming and accessible, all with the help of the Open Space Institute (OSI).
For over three decades, OSI and its partners have left a lasting mark on Minnewaska, not only protecting the property from development early on, but also slowly and steadily doubling the size of the park to its present 24,000 acres; restoring more than 12 miles of once-crumbling carriage roads; and, most recently, unveiling the vibrant Lake Minnewaska Visitor Center.
For many visitors — and for Mark Ruoff, an avid outdoorsman, local community leader, and lifelong Ulster County resident — Minnewaska is a lifeline. For years, the busy father of three has visited the park as frequently as he can, giving him a first-hand, real-time look at how OSI is making the visitor experience enjoyable and rewarding.
“It strikes me every time I go, and in every season, just how well protected and appealing Minnewaska has become,” says Ruoff.
Ruoff speaks glowingly about the new Visitor Center. To create the center, OSI led a $3-million fundraising effort while shaping the building’s architectural designs, developing special features, and spearheading the creation of thoughtful and state-of-the-art educational exhibits.